MONTCLAIR, NJ – An ordinance prohibiting smoking in Essex County parks passed during the Essex County Freeholder meeting on Wednesday.

Sponsored by Freeholder Vice President Brendan Gill, ordinance cleared the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. 

In addition to the 33 Essex County parks, reservations and other recreation facilities within the Essex County Parks System, the Essex County Parks and Building Exterior Smoke Free Air Ordinance will also prohibit smoking within 25 feet of outside entrances, exits, or wheelchair ramps serving any entrance or exit, of all structures owned, leased, rented and/or operated by the County of Essex.

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“It’s our priority to ensure the children and families utilizing Essex County’s parks have a safe and healthy environment to enjoy, and this resolution takes a significant step in that direction,” said Freeholder Gill. 

Summit-based group, Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy (GASP), is responsible for advising the Freeholder Board on this initiative. 

Executive Director Karen Blumenfeld, Esq., who served as an educational resource provider to the Freeholder Board, “14 Essex County towns already require smokefree municipal parks, so a county-wide smokefree parks policy will bring consistency to those communities. Plus, going smokefree aligns with the county’s environmentally sustainable initiatives as well as its health and wellness campaigns.”

Although a federal smoking ban does not exist, smoking bans are left up to first-level jurisdictions to determine. In 1995, California was the first state to enact a statewide smoking ban, with other states following suit since.

In April of 2015, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a statewide bill to ban smoking in New Jersey Parks in spite of overwhelming bipartisan support.

In the past, Gill has sponsored a similar air-quality resolution prioritizing the enforcement of state anti-idling laws to promote a smog-free environment.